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Fact Sheet on Honeybush Tea

Authors:
  • 5.47
  • Cancer Association of South Africa
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 1
Cancer Association of
South Africa (CANSA)
Fact Sheet
on
Honeybush Tea
Introduction
Cyclopia, better known by the common name Honeybush, or Heuningbos in Afrikaans, is a
genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, of the subfamily Faboideae. The
description was published by Étienne Pierre Ventenat in 1808. The name Ibbetsonia,
published two years later, is regarded as a synonym of this genus John Sims (was the first
editor of Curtis’s Bonatical Magazine [18011826 vols. xivxlii] after the death of the
founder, Willilam Curtis, and edited Annals of Botany [1805-6] with Charles Konig). John
Sims had commemorated the physiologist Agnes Ibbetson with this name.
It grows only in small areas in the southwest and southeast of South Africa and has many
similarities with Rooibos Tea.
[Picture Credit: Honeybush]
Honeybush is so named
because the flowers smell of
honey. The taste of
Honeybush Tea is similar to
that of Rooibos Tea but a little
sweeter. In some rural
districts it used to be common
practice to keep a kettle of Honeybush Tea infusing on the stove ready for drinking while
scenting the whole house unlike tea prepared from Camelllia sinensis, the product does
not turn bitter with long-term simmering.
(Jillian Michaels; Wikipedia).
The plant is a shrub of the
Fabaceae family (Legumin-
osae) that grows in the fynbos
botanical zone (biome),
indicated in green in the map
on the right. It is a narrow
region along the coast,
bounded by mountain ranges.
Fynbos is a vegetation type,
characterised mainly by woody
plants with small leathery
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
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leaves (fynbos is from the Dutch, meaning fine leaved plants).
(ITM Online).
Varieties of Honeybush Tea
There are dozens of species of Honeybush Tea found in the wild, of which mainly 4 or 5 are
in widespread home or commercial use. These are:
o Cyclopia intermedia, known as 'bergtee' (mountain tea), found between Port
Elizabeth and the edge of the Langkloof
o Cyclopia genistoides, known as 'kustee' (coastal tea), found mostly in the Western
Cape near Yzerfontein and Darling and also thriving in the South Cape if cultivated
o Cyclopia maculata, grown in the Outeniqua area near George
o Cyclopia sessiliflora, known as 'Heidelberg-tee', named after the town Heidelberg in
South Africa, where it grows in the local mountain range
o Cyclopia Subternata, known as 'vleitee' (marshland tea) or 'valleitee' (valley tea)
Some species can be cultivated whereas others have resisted all attempts at cultivation and
must be harvested in the wild. It is not always easy to discover what the seeds need to
enable them to germinate; some kinds bear elaiosomes (see below) and might be
dependent on the services of particular ants or birds. Cyclopia intermedia (mountain tea) is
one of the teas that is harvested in the Kouga mountains where it grows naturally. Mountain
tea regenerates within three years after harvesting or devastation by fire; consequently less
than one third of the mountain yield is available for harvesting each year by rotation.
Elaiosomes are fleshy structures that are attached to the seeds of many plant species. The
elaiosome is rich in lipids and proteins, and may be variously shaped. Many plants have
elaiosomes that attract ants, which take
the seed to their nest and feed the
elaiosome to their larvae. After the larvae
have consumed the elaiosome, the ants
take the seed to their waste disposal
area, which is rich in nutrients from the
ant frass and dead bodies, where the
seeds germinate. This type of seed
dispersal is termed myrmecochory from
the Greek ‘ant’ (myrmex) and ‘dispersal’
(kore).
(Wikipedia).
[Picture Credit: Cape Honeybush]
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 3
Nutritional Facts of Honeybush Tea
According to the Department of Chemistry of the University of the Free State, Honeybush
Tea contains the following nutritional components:
Nutrients
Function in Body
Mg Per 240ml
Iron (Fe)
Essential for transport of oxygen in the blood
0,3mg
Potassium (K)
Necessary for metabolic processes
0,01mg
Calcium (Ca)
Necessary for strong teeth and bones
0,01mg
Copper (Cu)
Necessary for different metabolic processes
0,003mg
Zinc (Zn)
Necessary for normal growth and development and
healthy skin
0,015mg
Magnesium (Mg)
Necessary for healthy nervous system and for other
metabolic processes
0,002mg
Manganese (Mn)
Necessary for metabolic processes and for bone
growth and development
0,11mg
Sodium (Na)
Necessary for fluid and acid-base balance
1,5mg
Further research by the Department of Chemistry of the University of the Free State
indicated that substantial amounts of (+)-pinitol is present in Honeybush tea. Pinitol is used
as an expectorant and also has anti-diabetic activity (Bates, et al., 2000).
Health Benefits of Honeybush Tea
Honeybush Tea is made as a simple herbal infusion. One of its early recognized benefits as
a tea substitute is its lack of caffeine, which makes it especially suited for night time
consumption and for those who experience nervousness and want to avoid ordinary tea. As
a result, it had a reputation as a calming beverage, though it may not have any specific
sedative properties. It also has a low content of tannins, so it doesn't make a highly
astringent tea, which can be a problem with some grades of black or green tea or when
ordinary tea is steeped too long.
[Picture Credit: Honeybush Health]
The traditional use of the tea for treating cough may be explained, in part, by its content of
pinitol, a modified sugar (a methyl group replaces hydrogen in one position of glucose; see
diagram below) that is similar to inositol. Pinitol, named for its major source, pine trees, is
also found in the leaves of several legume plants; it is an expectorant. Pinitol is also of
interest for apparent blood-sugar lowering effects, as demonstrated in laboratory animal
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
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studies (it may increase the effects of insulin), and is being considered as a drug for
diabetes. Honeybush also contains flavones, isoflavones, coumestans, luteolin, 4-
hydroxycinnamic acid, polyphenols, and xanthones. These ingredients serve as antioxidants
and may help lower blood lipids.
The isoflavones and coumestans are classified as phytoestrogens, used in the treatment of
menopausal symptoms, an application for which honeybush has recently been promoted.
The flavones and isoflavones of Honeybush are similar to those in soy, another leguminous
plant, also used in treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Luteolin is the primary yellow pigment of the flowers and has been used historically as a dye
(most often obtained for this purpose from the plant called Dyer's Weld, Reseda luteola).
(Smith, et al., 2001; van der Walt, 2000; Bates, et al., 2000; Kamara, et al., 2003;
Marnewick, et al., 2003; Chiechie, 1999).
Honeybush Tea has no negative side effects - Honeybush tea, grown in South Africa, has no
negative side effects whatsoever. Other key health benefits of Honeybush Tea includes:
o Caffeine-free
o Very low tannin levels
o It is very soothing and calms the central nervous system
o Eases constipation
o Can be applied topically to skin irritations
o Full of antioxidants to guard against free radical attack
o Contains polyphenols that boost the immune system and and to help reduce the
degenerative effects of lifestyle diseases
o Rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium,
manganese, and sodium
(Health24; eHow).
Properties that enhances health - Honeybush Tea processes numerous properties that
enhance the health of people that use it:
Isoflavones & Coumestans
The dietary phyto-estrogen-hormone-dependant process. This is advantageous for:
o Regulation of menstruation cycles
o Prevention of breast, prostate and Uterus cancer
o Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis
o Anti-fungal properties
o Anti-virus properties
o Anticholesterolemic-lowers cholesterol levels
o Hypolipemic-lowers fat levels
o Anti-microbial
o Anti-oxidant
Specific Luteolin is anti-spasmodic and anti-oxidant. 4-Hydroxycinnomic acid is anti-fungus
and Antihepatotoxic.
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 5
Xanthones
o Anti-inflammatory
o Anti-hepatotoxic works against kidney poisoning
o Anti-virus
o Anti-diarrhoea
o Anti-fungus
o Anti-oxidants
o Anti-depressant
Flavones
o Vitamin-type activity (mixture of eriodictyol and hesperidien)
o Anti-oxidants
o Anti-microbial
o Anti-virus
o Anti-inflammatory
o Spasmolytic
o Diuretic (increases Urinating)
o Non-feeding sweeteners
Research on Honeybush Tea has only started recently in the 90’s and already great
progress was made on testing and researching the medicinal values of this tea. De
Nysschen et al found three major phenolic compounds in Honeybush tealeaves in 1995: a
xanthone c-glycoside, mangiferin and O-glycosides of hesperitin and isosakuranetin, two
flavanones.
(Department of Chemistry, University of the Free State).
Honeybush Tea improves the immune system - Honeybush Tea is a natural source of many
antioxidants, including major phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds play a significant
role in protecting the immune system from oxidative stress, which could damage cells,
according to a 2013 review published in “Nutrients.” Phenolic compounds also modulate the
immune system, which helps the body’s natural defenses against infections. This may be
responsible for the belief that Honeybush Tea is effective in relieving colds, influenza and
other diseases (Livestrong).
[Picture Credit: Coarse Honeybush]
Honeybush Tea protects from inflammatory diseases
- evidence also exists that the phenolic compounds
in Honeybush Tea are able to reduce inflammation
and prevent the development of chronic inflammatory
diseases. Phenolic compounds have a direct effect
on down-regulating the body’s inflammatory
response, as demonstrated in inflamed intestinal
cells similar to those seen in inflammatory bowel
disease, according to a December 2010 study
published in “Chemico-Biological Interactions.” This makes Honeybush Tea effective in
providing short-term inflammatory relief as well as helping to prevent or ameliorate
inflammatory diseases like IBD or Crohn's disease (Livestrong).
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 6
Women's Health - Honeybush Tea is valuable to women's health, according to Montego
Rooibos Herbal Tea, because it helps regulate periods and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
and cancer of the breast and uterus (eHow).
Good for gastrointestinal health people suffering from digestive problems can benefit from
drinking Honeybush Tea. It can be taken to alleviate heartburn, nausea and constipation. It
can also help cure constipation. It treats abdominal cramps and colic pain in infants (Natural
Home Remedies).
Downsides of Honeybush Tea
None whatsoever as no negative side effects have ever been reported, therefore,
Honeybush Tea can be drunk freely. If Honeybush is brewed or boiled for longer than ten
minutes, the antioxidant activity becomes even much higher.
Medical Disclaimer
This Fact Sheet is intended to provide general information only and, as such, should not be
considered as a substitute for advice, medically or otherwise, covering any specific situation.
Users should seek appropriate advice before taking or refraining from taking any action in
reliance on any information contained in this Fact Sheet. So far as permissible by law, the
Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) does not accept any liability to any person (or
his/her dependants/estate/heirs) relating to the use of any information contained in this Fact
Sheet.
Whilst CANSA has taken every precaution in compiling this Fact Sheet, neither it, nor any
contributor(s) to this Fact Sheet can be held responsible for any action (or the lack thereof)
taken by any person or organisation wherever they shall be based, as a result, direct or
otherwise, of information contained in, or accessed through, this Fact Sheet.
Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 7
Sources and References
Bartoszewski, R., Hering, A., Marszall, M., StefanowicsHajduk, J., Bartoszewska, S.,
Kapoor, N., Kochan, K. & Ochocka, R. 2014. Mangiferin has an additive effect on the
apoptotic properties of hesperidin in Cyclopia sp. tea extracts. LoS One, 14:9(3): e92128.
Bates, S.H., Jones, R.B. & Bailey, C.J. 2000. Insulin-like effect of pinitol, British Journal of
Pharmacology, 130(8): 1944-1948.
Cape Honeybush
https://www.google.co.za/search?q=health+benefits+south+african+honeybush+tea&source
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y0Kub07Aa7toGgDQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoATge&biw=1517&bih=714&dpr=0.9#facrc=_&imgdii
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bout_03.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.capehoneybushtea.co.za%252Fabout.htm%
3B422%3B449
Cape Honeybush Tea
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extract of unfermented honeybush (Cuyclopia maculate) attenuates STZ-induced diabetes
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Chiechi, L.M. 1999. Dietary phytoestrogens in the prevention of long-term postmenopausal
diseases. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 67(1): 39-40.
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Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
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Health24
http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Beverages/Soothing-honeybush-tea-20120721
Honeybush
https://www.google.co.za/search?q=health+benefits+south+african+honeybush+tea&source
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ITM Online
http://www.itmonline.org/arts/honeybush.htm
Jillian Michaels
http://livewell.jillianmichaels.com/honeybush-tea-benefits-5458.html
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Researched and Authored by Prof Michael C Herbst
[D Litt et Phil (Health Studies); D N Ed; M Art et Scien; B A Cur; Dip Occupational Health]
Approved for Distribution by Ms Elize Joubert, Acting CEO
May 2014 Page 9
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  • B Scien
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Cyclopia genistoides, National Botanical Institute, South Africa
  • L Van Der Walt
van der Walt L. 2000. Cyclopia genistoides, National Botanical Institute, South Africa. http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/cyclopiagenistoides.htm.
Article
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Hormone replacement therapy associated risks, and the concomitant reluctance of usage, has instigated the search for new generations of estrogen analogues that would maintain estrogen benefits without associated risks. Furthermore, if these analogues display chemo-preventative properties in breast and endometrial tissues it would be of great value. Both the selective estrogen receptor modulators as well as the selective estrogen receptor subtype modulators have been proposed as estrogen analogues with improved risk profiles. Phytoestrogen containing extracts of Cyclopia, an indigenous South African fynbos plant used to prepare Honeybush tea may serve as a source of new estrogen analogues. In this study three extracts, P104, SM6Met, and cup-of-tea, from two species of Cyclopia, C. genistoides and C. subternata, were evaluated for ER subtype specific agonism and antagonism both in transactivation and transrepression. For transactivation, the Cyclopia extracts displayed ERα antagonism and ERβ agonism when ER subtypes were expressed separately, however, when co-expressed only agonism was uniformly observed. In contrast, for transrepression, this uniform behavior was lost, with some extracts (P104) displaying uniform agonism, while others (SM6Met) displayed antagonism when subtypes were expressed separately and agonism when co-expressed. In addition, breast cancer cell proliferation assays indicate that extracts antagonize cell proliferation in the presence of estrogen at lower concentrations than that required for proliferation. Furthermore, lack of uterine growth and delayed vaginal opening in an immature rat uterotrophic model validates the ERα antagonism of extracts observed in vitro and supports the potential of the Cyclopia extracts as a source of estrogen analogues with a reduced risk profile.
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Cyclopia Vent. species, commonly known as honeybush, are endemic to Southern Africa. The plant is traditionally used as an herbal tea but several health benefits have recently been recorded. This minireview presents an overview of polyphenols found in Cyclopia and focusses on the phytoestrogenic potential of selected polyphenols and of extracts prepared from the plant.
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Widespread consumption of herbal teas has stimulated interest in their role as cancer preventive agents. The present investigation monitored the modulation of methylbenzylnitrosamine (MBN)-induced esophageal squamous cell carcinogenesis by rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) herbal and Camellia sinensis teas in male F344 rats. The tumor multiplicity was significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited by unfermented honeybush (45.5%), green (50%), and black (36%) teas, while the other teas exhibited weaker effects (<30% inhibition). The mean total papilloma size was reduced by unfermented rooibos (87%), unfermented honeybush (94%), and fermented honeybush (74%) due to the absence of large papillomas (>10 mm(3)). Reduction of the mean total papilloma number correlated with the total polyphenol (TPP) (r = 0.79; P < 0.02) and flavanol/proanthocyanidin (FLAVA) (r = 0.89; P < 0.008) intake (mg/100 g body weight) of the teas and the FLAVA (r = 0.89; P < 0.04) and flavonol/flavones/xanthones (r = 0.99; P < 0.002) intake when considering only the herbal teas. A daily TPP intake threshold of 7 mg/100 g body weight existed below where no inhibition of papilloma development was observed. Fermentation of herbal teas reduced the inhibitory effects on papilloma development associated with a reduction in the polyphenolic constituents. The inhibitory effect of herbal teas on papilloma development is associated with different flavonoid subgroups and/or combination thereof.
Article
The possible mechanism of photoprotection by polyphenolic extracts of honeybush and the two most abundant polyphenols found in honeybush, hesperidin and mangiferin were determined using a mouse model. Ethanol: acetone soluble extracts and pure honeybush compounds were applied topically to the skin of SKH-1 mice before daily exposures to ultraviolet B (UVB) (180 mJ/cm²) for 10 days. The honeybush extracts reduced signs of sunburn, such as erythema, peeling and hardening of the skin and also significantly (P < 0.05) reduced edema, epidermal hyperplasia and the induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), GADD45 and OGG1/2 expression. The fermented honeybush extract significantly (P < 0.05) reduced lipid peroxidation and depletion of the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase. Hesperidin and mangiferin were less effective. These results show that extracts of honeybush and to some extent, hesperidin and mangiferin, renders protection against UVB-induced skin damage. The mechanisms investigated suggest that honeybush extracts protected the skin via modulation of induced-oxidative damage, inflammation and cell proliferation. Other specific biological properties such as modulation of signaling pathways could also be involved.
Article
Rooibos and honeybush teas significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced the activity of cytosolic glutathione S-transferase alpha. A significant (P < 0.05) to marginal (P < 0.1) increase in the activity of the microsomal UDP-glucuronosyl transferase was obtained with unprocessed rooibos and honeybush teas, respectively. Oxidized glutathione (GSSG) levels were significantly (P < 0.05) reduced in the liver of all tea treated rats while reduced glutathione (GSH) was markedly increased in the liver of the herbal tea treated rats. These changes resulted in a significant (P < 0.05) increase in the GSH/GSSG ratio by the unprocessed, processed rooibos and unprocessed honeybush teas. Green and black teas markedly to significantly decreased the oxygen radical absorbance capacity in liver homogenates, respectively. Modulation of phase II drug metabolizing enzymes and oxidative status in the liver may be important events in the protection against adverse effects related to mutagenesis and oxidative damage.